Telecommuters Cause Bad Morale? Perhaps That Is Indicative Of A Bigger Problem

from the that's-why-it's-called- dept

With increased home connectivity and gas prices on the rise, telecommuting has grown in popularity. But, a recent study warns that organizations with high numbers of telecommuters can damage traditional workers' job satisfaction. The study, published by RPI management professor, Timothy Golden, found a correlation between the number of teleworkers in the office and lower job satisfaction in non-teleworkers. Perhaps a better explanation would be that the non-teleworkers feel like they're being treated unfairly. Although studies have shown that telecommuters are happier and less stressed, the happiness actually comes not from the telecommuting itself, but from the higher flexibility and autonomy afforded by telecommuting policies. By not chaining workers to a desk for 8 hours a day (which has also been shown to stifle productivity), employees are afforded the flexibility they need to mold their job around their busy lives, and not the other way around. Golden does realizes this fact in his report, so instead of making the telecommuters feel "special," he recommends that telecommuting be approached at an organizational level rather than a case-by-case basis. Whether or not your desk sits in your house, at the office, or both, it is not the location of the desk that is important, but rather the flexibility to choose when and where you sit.

Filed Under: telecommuting


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  1. identicon
    Chuck Wilsker, 7 Feb 2008 @ 11:04am

    Validity of Conclusions in Research Findings Quest

    After reviewing the Study “Telecommuting May Harm Workers Left Behind in the Office” conducted by Timothy Golden, associate professor in the Lally School of Management & Technology at Rensselaer, we question the validity of his research and quite frankly are surprised that it was released. Drawing conclusions on a study based on “a couple hundred people from a single company”, may say more about that company’s policies and procedures, or lack thereof, than teleworking. How can anyone perform a study with his only source of data being one medium size company and imply that his conclusions are valid for any other organization?

    In 2006 we, The Telework Coalition, conducted a Telework Benchmarking study of 13 large organizations with mature telework programs. In it we asked about the attitudes of those employees who did not telework. Both our study and two previously conducted studies by other organizations in which there were multiple participants showed that the non teleworking coworkers were both enthusiastically supportive and felt teleworking was good for the organization, or at the least, the situation was a non issue.

    In Mr. Golden’s study none of the distributed work program’s many benefits are measured, compared, or contrasted with the grumblings from 'those left behind'. We have seen more employers concerned with transit strikes, the possibility of a bird flu pandemic, terrorism, recruiting and retention issues, rising gas prices, faltering transportation infrastructures, the environment, etc. than the negatives alluded to by Mr. Golden.

    Were there no positives in this company’s telework program? Was there top-level support, written policies and procedures, and processes, selection criteria based on the employee and job, a communication plan (so everyone is the “loop”), training, and program evaluation (to identify/resolve any start up issues). Did this company follow these steps?

    So many questions, and yet so few answers from Dr. Golden's research.

    The Telework Coalition
    Washington, DC
    www.TelCoa.org
    Info@TelCoa.org

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